UK assembles experimental hydrogen network from decommissioned gas infrastructure


U.K. energy regulator Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) has demonstrated its commitment to the waste hierarchy by reusing decommissioned natural gas infrastructure in a testbed hydrogen network in the northwest of England.

The regulator will stump up £9.07 million (€10.1 million) of the £12.7 million cost to assemble the ‘HyNTS (hydrogen national transmission system) FutureGrid' network to study the transmission of pure and blended hydrogen for heating and industrial use. The testbed facility will not be connected to the U.K.'s transmission grid, state-owned network operator National Grid announced in a press release issued yesterday to highlight the project. The scheme will receive funding from Ofgem's Network Innovation Competition.

The press release makes several mentions of “green” and “low-carbon” energy but does not specify whether the hydrogen used for testing will come solely from renewables or whether it may include ‘blue hydrogen', generated by fossil fuel plants equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.

Construction will start next year and testing is due in 2022, said National Grid.

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The balance of the costs will be contributed by project partners DNV GL; the science division of the U.K. government's Health and Safety Executive; Durham University; the University of Edinburgh; and gas distributor Northern Gas Networks. No breakdown was given of how the remaining £3.63 million of expenses would be divided among the project partners.

Norwegian testing institute DNV GL will design, construct and operate the high-pressure hydrogen research facility at its Spadeadam base in the county of Cumbria. Northern Gas Networks has its ‘H21 Phase 2' project – which also appears to have been funded by Ofgem's Network Innovation Competition as it was labelled ‘NIC' in the press release – at Spadeadam. The latter project consists of a microgrid connected to three terraced houses. National Grid said the H21 project would be connected to the HyNTS FutureGrid.

A representative of Belgian natural gas distributor Fluxys Belgium was quoted in the National Grid press release but it is not clear whether Fluxys has any involvement in the HyNTS FutureGrid project as no other mention was made of the company in the release.

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